As a lifelong resident of the New York City metropolitan area, it’s difficult for me to admit that when it comes to craft beer, it seems like the West Coast is light years ahead. While New York is arguably the best overall drinking town in the world, it’s more of a wine and cocktail scene than a craft beer one.
Occasionally you run into a few random gems, such as the tiny bodega a block away from my apartment that randomly would stock Founder’s KBS or Bell’s Hopslam in season, but outside of a few world class bar options, as a whole, there are not nearly as many choices as one would think – which is disappointing.
That’s begun to change, however, as more and more breweries have begun to pop up in recent years in the Outer Boroughs. Arguably the best New York City brewery is Other Half, located in Brooklyn, which opened in 2013 and has certainly had their impact on the local craft beer scene, releasing occasional brews and one offs that consistently garners blocks long lines.
Queens seems be benefitting from the craft beer boom the most it seems. Two local breweries stand out: SingleCut, only a few blocks walk from the N and Q train in Astoria, has one of the best tap rooms in the area, and Finback, which produced my favorite beer of the summer in collaboration with Miami’s J Wakefield Brewing, the appropriately named Smooth Beats Miami.
The impeccable balance of the hoppy bitterness and coconut sweetness is what makes Smooth Beats Miami my standout beer of the summer”
A Coconut IPA (don’t close your browser yet, trust me on this one), Smooth Beats Miami is a pleasant, refreshing summer beverage. While coconut may not be on the top of my list of flavoring pairs for IPAs, the impeccable balance of the hoppy bitterness and coconut sweetness is what makes Smooth Beats Miami my standout beer of the summer.
The combination of the mellow hop profile thanks to Equinox, El Dorado, and Zythos dry hopping and slight citrus juiciness builds a taste reminiscent of a Piña Colada, but not too much so.
It pours an enticing bright cream amber, tastes like the tropics, is eminently drinkable, and perhaps most importantly, a blast to drink. At 6.2% alcohol by volume, it’s not too boozy and hangs out on the corner of sessionable and a little bit of kick.
It’s impressive to me how easy it could have been for Smooth Beats Miami to be a complete disaster – too much coconut could have given the beer an unsatisfactory artificial sweetness or too much bitterness could have made the coconut contrived and superfluous.
Instead, Finback and J Wakefield have brewed together an intricately crafted, expertly balanced beer using an unexpected ingredient that is less a gimmick and more an integral component of what makes Smooth Beats Miami such a great beer.